Today’s Solutions: February 03, 2023

The saying “less is more” has never rung truer than during these unpredictable and tumultuous times. If our collective concern for the environment isn’t enough to encourage us to minimize our carbon footprints by rejecting consumerism, then the financial stress and/or job instability that the past couple of years have put on a great number of us should motivate us to want to simplify our holidays this year.

If you want to eliminate (or reduce!) material gifts this year, then here’s how to make that request of friends and loved ones.

Start with a thank you

Gratitude is a wonderful way to frame this conversation, especially because some people express love through gift-giving. Let your friends and family know that you’ve truly appreciated the gifts you’ve received from them in the past.

Be honest

Honesty is the best policy as they say. Let people know that you’re focused on simplifying and decluttering your life, or if your reasons are financial, there’s no shame in letting them know that you’re on a tighter budget this year. Try framing the situation with positive language like: “I’m excited to keep things simple this year,” to help get everyone on board with your holiday needs.

Offer alternatives

Some people may be at a loss of what to do if you simply say: “no gifts!” Instead, offer alternatives to people who still want to extend their generosity in some way. Some alternatives that you can ask for are:

  • Experiences

    Instead of material items, let your friends and family know that experiences are the way to go this year. Ask them for movie tickets, a gift card to your favorite restaurant, or concert passes.

  • DIY something together

    Ask to spend some quality time together by starting a project together. It can be as simple as baking cookies, decorating a gingerbread house, or participating in a wine and paint night!

  • Give fewer gifts

    Instead of making purchases for your entire social circle, suggest selecting names from a hat and focusing your energy on getting just one or two people a gift that they really want. Then everyone can go home happy with one terrific gift.

  • Consider consumables

    There are plenty of sets out there that are stocked with specialty items like wines, teas, hot chocolates, or even soup mixes and baking mixes. So, if your loved ones are set on getting you a gift, then suggest they give you something you’ll love sipping or snacking on.

  • Exchange services

    If you think shoveling snow is the best seasonal full-body workout but hate cooking, then perhaps offer a service-exchanging gift with your friend who is an expert in the kitchen!

  • Volunteer together

    Instead of exchanging gifts this year, get some people together to volunteer as a group at an animal shelter, nursing home, or soup kitchen. If it’s not safe yet to volunteer in person, suggest hopping online to donate some needed items or give a group monetary donation to a charity you all can get behind.

  • Coordinate donations

    If there’s a charitable organization that you care about, consider asking friends and family to make a contribution to them rather than spending their resources to give you a gift. You can also ask for non-perishable food items and warm clothes instead of gifts so that you can bring them to a community organization in need.

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